Friday, October 13, 2006

Galas and Workshops and other “events” in a writer’s life

There comes a time when one must “dress up” and at least pretend to be a grown-up. I’m very fortunate, I think in that those times don’t come around that often for me. I’m not real big on “social chit-chat” or initiating conversations with strangers. Like most writers I know, at heart I’m an introvert and am drained, not energized by crowds.

There are a few exceptions to that rule. One is getting together to talk about or learn about writing, the other is being with good friends or family (though sometimes one really should take a break from one’s family).

The last weekend in September was definitely one of those occasions. The Midwest Fiction Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America celebrated our 25th Anniversary…and boy, did we celebrate. How about a “Gala” dinner on a beautiful Minnesota evening with music, fabulous food, Barbara Samuel as the guest speaker and a raffle with a chance to sit at Barbara’s table or Bob Mayer’s table or Jenny Crusie’s table…

Yes, we were star-studded…Rosemary Heim, Lois Greiman, Susan Kay Law, Connie Brockway, Kathleen Eagle, Wendy Rosnau, Tate Halloway, Helen Brenna, and I’m sure I missed a few others…names you’ve seen on the bookshelf at your favorite bookstore…they were there looking glamorous. The aspiring writers of the chapter were there as well…including yours truly (and some friends).

On Saturday morning, bright and early, 100(+/- a few) people showed up to catch Bob Mayer & Jenny Crusie – “Living the Dream” – in their MUST-SEE/HEAR workshop for writers. They covered it all – and they did it in tag-team fashion – with humor, examples from their collaboration and from their own works as well as from popular movies and TV shows. Bob & Jenny managed to break down the “how-to” so that it makes sense, so that anyone who really wants to can follow and improve their own writing.

Yes, there are times when one should dress up and pay attention to the wisdom others are sharing…who knows what you will learn.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fire Tending

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours. ~ Ayn Rand

So you are a writer. What makes you write? What makes you yearn for time to create worlds, put words in people’s mouths, twist emotions until you feel wrung dry? To truly write your passion, first you must determine what your fire is. Now, how you keep that fire alive despite all odds. How do you feed yourself? More importantly how do you feed your dreams? Do you listen when you talk to yourself? Are you more brutal than the worst boss you've ever had? Are you more demanding than any manager ever hoped to be? Are you harsher than the cruelest editor?

To feed your fire, read. Write. Communicate. Bring words into your heart and mind that inspire you and wake you up. Don’t waste your time with insipid thoughts or negative people. They only tamp out those sparks that are precious treasures for you. Or do you do it to yourself?

Why? Why do you suppress your own fire? Your own need to be alive, to live, to burn? Why do you talk negatively to the only person in your life who truly understands you and your dreams? Isn't that person the most important person in the world to you? You should be. Stop dismissing yourself as if you weren’t vital to whom you are! No more “I can’t do that” “I’m not good enough” “If only I were better.” Every time you say this kind of thing, you put out a spark. Remind yourself often that you are an amazing creative person with a dream.

If you don't make your own dreams ultimate, then who will? You are the only one who can carry yourself forward. No one else will. Not because they don't care, but because they don't truly understand your dreams, your fire, your spark of Deity. Only you can bear the beauty of your inner hopes and desires.

And that is as it should be. Focus on yourself and what it is you want out of life. Remind yourself daily that you deserve the sweet things life has to offer. Don't close yourself off to the opportunities of life by moaning about all the wrongs offered to you by other humans. They are merely human. They do not realize that they tread on your spark threatening to snuff out the flame of your desires. Forgive them and move away from those that are not healthy for you. Keep writing down words. Keep twisting emotions. Keep putting words in your characters’ mouths.

"Check your road and the nature of your battle," Rand says. Every day state what it is that you want and what it is that you are going to do to get it. Make this a battle cry of hope and expectation. Affirm your place in your world and dig your heels in. Don't let anyone put you out. You are writers and you are creators of your own reality. So what are you waiting for? Create!

You are worth every effort. Your life is sweet and will bring you everything you want it to. Just keep burning. And always feed your fire. Remember that what you desire “exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”